Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What I learned from Judy Blume

I am in the process of reading "Everything I need to know about being a girl I learned from Judy Blume." It is this nice little anthology of some of my favorite females authors about how JB's books affected their lives. It got me thinking about the JB books that have had the most impact in my world. I think the two that stick out in my mind the most are "Are you there God, its me Margaret?" and "Forever ..." Sure, I read her other books - like Super Fudge or Deannie or the Rachel Robinson ones. I think I devoured every JB book there was (well, minus the adult ones and I never read Tiger Eyes - at least I don't think I did). And yet, those two are the only ones that stick out in my mind and well it would seem for obvious reasons.

"Are you there God ..." tells the tale of Margaret and all she wants is her period. All of her other friends get there periods and she feels left out. I mean, I suppose the whole puberty thing and girls becoming women is an important topic and the time when it was written also plays a role in the importance of the book. And while I do think that it is a book that every girl should read because by the end you don't feel as totally alone in the whole puberty world you some how got into -it also just never seemed totally realistic. Perhaps I was reading it around the time I had gotten mine for the first time (or even before) but either way it was nothing something I wanted. It wasn't something my friends and I discussed or was jealous about because some girls got their periods and others didn't. It was just a part of life, so deal with it.
And it was sure as heck something I didn't really care for (still don't) because it meant the end of being a kid. It meant I was a woman now. It meant that I could get pregnant (while sex wasn't on the radar for quite sometime after that - there was now all of a sudden this possibility). It meant that I basically could never wear white pants again - not that I think I ever wore them to begin with. It meant pain that induced vomiting numerous times. It just meant a slew of more problems than benefits. Oh, yeah you're supposed to get things like boobs and hips and grow taller and loose all that baby fat around the middle right? Hmmm... I must have missed that part of the deal.

So what did this book teach me about being a girl then? Not much. Everything in JB's seems just too idealistic for me. I guess it taught me that apparently becoming a woman was a big deal and that you too should feel superior instead of shame that you got your period before the rest of your friends. And also apparently your period is magically thing you just feel, while sitting at the dinner table - not the gut wrenching, all day long stomach pain. Man, did I get the short end of the stick when it came to getting my period.

p.s. what did I learn from "Forever ..." I learned that never have your first time on someone else's sheets -use a multi-colored blanket that will hide the inevitable blood stains. Oh yeah, also that person you have sex with for the first time is not someone who has to be a part of your life for a long period of time - which was good for my 14 year-old, romantic, self to understand.

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